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J. Parasitol., 92(4), 2006, pp. 770777 American Society of Parasitologists 2006
 

Summary: 770
J. Parasitol., 92(4), 2006, pp. 770777
American Society of Parasitologists 2006
PARASITES IN A BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT: A SURVEY OF HEMATOZOA AND A
MOLECULAR PHYLOGENETIC ANALYSIS OF PLASMODIUM IN NEW GUINEA SKINKS
Christopher C. Austin and Susan L. Perkins*
Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University, 119 Foster Hall, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803. e-mail: ccaustin@lsu.edu
ABSTRACT: A sample of 204 skinks (Squamata: Scincidae) from 10 genera representing 24 species were collected from 10
different localities in New Guinea and examined for blood parasites. Hemogregarines, trypanosomes, microfilarial worms, and 8
infections showing 2 distinct morphological types of malaria parasites (Plasmodium sp.) were observed. Molecular sequence data,
in the form of mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences from the Plasmodium infections, showed 2 distinct clades of parasites, 1
in Sphenomorphus jobiense hosts and 1 in Emoia spp., which correspond to the 2 morphotypes. There was substantial genetic
variation between the 2 clades, as well as within the clade of Emoia parasites. Nearly half of the skinks sampled had green blood
pigmentation, resulting from the presence of biliverdin in the plasma; however, only 1 of these lizards was infected with Plas-
modium sp. and only 2 had any blood parasites. These preliminary results suggest a high degree of phylogenetic diversity but a
very low prevalence of Plasmodium spp. infections in the skinks of this globally important biodiversity hot spot.
The island of New Guinea is on the border of one of the
most distinct biogeographic demarcations in the world. Wal-
lace's line, which coincides with the boundary between the an-
cient supercontinents of Laurasia and Gondwana, separates the

  

Source: Austin, Christopher C. - Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University

 

Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology